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Watchdog, Donors Share Common Foes

While CREW will not release its donor records, since 2003 the group has received $125,000 from the Arca Foundation, according to the foundation’s annual reports. Over the same period, Arca — a family foundation that has backed a host of liberal causes — has provided about $1 million to organizations to advocate opening ties to Cuba and reducing barriers to travel.

The Arca Foundation’s executive director, Donna Edwards, was listed as a director of CREW on the organization’s 2003, 2004 and 2005 tax forms. Edwards ran against Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) in 2006 and again is challenging him in the Democratic primary. CREW has never filed an allegation against Wynn, but two days before the 2006 primary, the organization posted to its Web site a Washington Post story headlined “Wynn Accused of Inflating His List of Endorsements.”

Arca Foundation board member Margery Tabankin told Roll Call that she believes the foundation was supporting CREW for general operations, and that there was no mention of Cuba in the foundation’s discussion of grants to CREW.

Arca also supports the Center for Independent Media, founded in 2006 to promote “citizen-driven journalism” through blogs. The center established two Web sites as test-beds — Minnesota Monitor and Colorado Confidential.

Three weeks before the 2006 Congressional elections, CREW filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that a Minnesota pastor had violated his church’s tax-exempt status by endorsing conservative Republican Michele Bachmann for the state’s 6th Congressional district. The endorsement originally was reported by Minnesota Monitor, and CREW cited that report in its complaint to the IRS. In February 2007, CREW filed a second IRS complaint against the same pastor, alleging financial improprieties at the church. CREW said it had received evidence of the financial deals from Minnesota Monitor.

At no point did CREW disclose the fact that — according to foundation reports — it shares funders with Minnesota Monitor, including Arca, the Brett Family Foundation and the Colorado-based Gill Foundation.

The Gill Foundation is heavily invested in organizations advocating gay and lesbian rights. One of the prime antagonists of the gay rights movement is Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Two weeks before the 2004 election, CREW filed a complaint with the Department of Justice alleging that Musgrave’s campaign was operating out of her district office in Loveland, Colo. Musgrave Chief of Staff Guy Short said the allegation was untrue. He said Musgrave’s office never was contacted by the Justice Department and to the best of his knowledge the allegation was never investigated by the DOJ.

In September 2005, CREW named Musgrave to its list of the “13 Most Corrupt” Members of Congress, and filed a complaint against her before the FEC in February 2007. The FEC dismissed that complaint.

In September 2006, CREW filed complaints with the IRS and the Postal Service against two “anti-gay marriage organizations” in Minnesota for allegedly supporting a state Senate candidate.

The Gill Foundation donated $125,000 to CREW in 2006, according to the foundation’s annual report.

Like most CREW filings, the complaint the organization filed with the DOJ against Musgrave was based on local news stories, and the document contains no indication that CREW made independent efforts to confirm the details.

Republicans complain that the overwhelming majority of CREW’s targets are GOP officeholders or allied organizations. CREW denies a partisan bias to its activities.

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